An impaired function of the coronary endothelium is an important determinant of all stages of atherosclerosis, from initiation, to mediation of functional phenomena—such as spasm and plaque erosion, to atherothrombotic complications. Endothelial function is modified by therapies, including stent implantation. Finally, endothelial function changes over time, in response to physical stimuli and pharmocotherapies, and its assessment might provide information on how individual patients respond to specific therapies. In this review, we describe the role of the endothelium in the continuum of coronary atherosclerosis, from the perspective of the interventional cardiologist. In the first part, we review the current knowledge of the role of endothelial (dys)function on atherosclerotic plaque progression/instabilization and on the mechanisms of ischemia, in the absence of coronary artery stenosis. In the second part of this review, we describe the impact of coronary artery stenting on endothelial function, platelet aggregation, and inflammation.
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